Problem Statement

Typical digital repository systems use complex data structures, such as databases, to store collections. These data structures, while providing performance benefits, create difficulty with the preservation and dissemination of digital objects (for example, images). This is as a result of the tools provided by the digital repository system allowing users to access and interact with the digital objects. However, without these tools, the objects within the data structures are not human-readable. This means that if the tools to access the data structures are lost, so is the data within the data structures.

One possible solution is to build a digital repository system using a simple file hierarchy as a data structure, as the digital objects will always be human-readable. However, this solution raises concerns regarding the performance and usability of the system.


The aim of the Bonolo Project is to create a digital repository system, based on a simple file hierarchy as a data structure, without hindering performance or usability.

Solution Overview

To develop a Web-based digital repository system based on predefined simple file store:

  • Create an End-User Interface that allows public users to explore and interact with the digital collection. This was developed by Stuart Hammar.
  • Create a Curator Interface to allow administrators to manage, manipulate and create digital collections. This was developed by Miles Robinson.

The following image depicts the digital repository system that was designed.

(Click for the full sized image)

Findings and Conclusions

The results obtained from user and performance evaluations indicated that:

  • The usability of both the end-user and curator interfaces was unaffected by the simple file store
  • System performance was unhindered by the simple file store, provided the file store was well structured
  • Bonolo is comparable to digital repository systems based on complex data structures